Re: Interview with Professor Robert Darnton About Harvard's Open Access Mandates

From: (wrong string) édon Jean-Claude <jean.claude.guedon_at_UMONTREAL.CA>
Date: Wed, 28 Oct 2009 18:43:05 -0400

Back to old points, but I cannot let them pass.

Jean-Claude guédon

-----Original Message-----
From: American Scientist Open Access Forum on behalf of Stevan Harnad
Sent: Wed 10/28/2009 10:54 AM
Subject: Interview with Professor Robert Darnton About Harvard's Open Access Mandates
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Professor Darnton's podcast is highly recommended. Just a few (minor)
points of clarification:

1. Public Access. Although worldwide public access to universities'
refereed research output is a desirable and welcome side-benefit of OA
and OA mandates, a lot of research is, as Prof. Darnton points out,
"esoteric," intended for and of direct interest only to specialists.
It is the scholarly and scientific progress that this maximized
peer-to-peer access makes possible that confers the primary public
benefit of OA. Pubic access and student/teacher are secondary bonuses.

Research may be esoteric at times (and depending on the discipline), but this is not its fate to be limited to researchers. In other words, the base line for research results is the whole of humanity. De facto, a good share of it may be accessible to only a few specialists, but this is a defacto, not a de jure, point.

One could add that that the advent of open access is going to push back the expert/vulgus distinction and bring us back to a continuum of knowledge compeetence. This has great implications for the future of education and science popularization.


4. Journal Article Output vs. Book Output. The Harvard OA mandate
covers journal article output, not book output. It would of course be
a welcome outcome if eventually OA mandates made it possible for
universities to save money on journal subscriptions, which could then
be used to purchase books. But it must be clearly understood that not
only does the OA mandate not touch books, but the economics of book
publication are very different from the economics of journal
publication, so even an eventual universal transition to Gold OA
journal publication does not entail a transition to Gold OA book

I beg to differ here again. We aare speaking about the results of research and the "books" targeted here are "research monographs". They often are the result of research supported by public money. Books have to be considered alongside journal articles. Not doing so is equivlent to exluding all the humanities and a good share of the social sciences.


6. Proxy Deposit By Journals. It is splendid that Harvard's Office for
Scholarly Communication is providing help and support for Harvard
authors in understanding and complying with Harvard's mandate,
including depositing papers on authors' behalf. I am not so sure it is
a good idea to encourage the option of having the journal do the
deposit by proxy on the author's behalf (after an embargo of its
choosing) as a means of complying with the mandate. Best keep that in
the hands of the author and his own institutional assigns...

I fully agree with the last point

Jean-Claude Guédon
Received on Thu Oct 29 2009 - 00:41:28 GMT

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